The New York State Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection is warning consumers to be on alert for scam artists posing as debt collectors.
Consumers are receiving harassing phone calls and voicemails from fake debt collectors threatening legal action in an attempt to collect money that is not actually owed. For this scam, the fake collectors tend to use fictitious names leading consumers to believe they are affiliated with a law firm. Sometimes, the callers may even have access to personal and/or financial information, such as a bank account number.
If you receive a call from a debt collector seeking payment for a debt you are not aware of, do not agree to pay it. If the debt the collector is referring to is legitimate, but you suspect the collector is not, contact your creditor. The New York State Division of Consumer Protection strongly recommends that consumers take note of the following tips to avoid being affected by fraudulent debt collection:
- Find out if you have outstanding debts by checking your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Unless you have verified the call, do not provide or confirm any personal or financial information over the phone. Act immediately if you provided personal identifiable information to unknown or unverified parties by notifying the companies with whom you have the accounts and by placing a security freeze or fraud alert on your files at credit reporting agencies.
- Beware of callers who want your money fast or use high-pressure tactics. Ask the caller to send you written materials, such as an official “validation notice” which includes the amount of debt, the name of the creditor and a statement of your rights under the FDCPA.
- If you suspect the caller is attempting to commit fraud, ask for his name, company, street address, and telephone number. Hang up the phone and confirm that the collection agency is real.
- If the caller uses threats, file a complaint at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov. Keep in mind that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors from being unfair, deceptive or abusive.